Cece Attempts: Kapa Haka

I would like to emphasize that this is my personal learning experience. I am brand new to this culture, and may have some things missing or even incorrect. I strive to continue to learn and learn correctly, so please leave a comment on my contact page if you notice anything. I have no intention to exploit or appropriate Māori Culture, and try my hardest to follow what appropriating is…

In my opinion culture appropriation is the following

  1. Doing something that pertains to another culture without asking 
  2. Doing it without knowing the history behind it
  3. Doing it to rip off the culture, stereotype it, or create parody of it 

Cheers and enjoy!

Week One:

First things first: Māori performing arts= Haka. That’s much shorter/ cooler. 

I should add Ha: breath Ka: to light. 

My dad told me when you visit a new place to expect to know nothing. Despite best intentions, seriously, you know nothing. 


I learned this quickly, discovering all the Māori stories I know are post-colonialism censored. Boo. You can’t really do authentic Haka without knowing the real stuff, huh?

I did have the creation stories somewhat right, though! 

Ranginui is the Sky Father, Papatūānuku is Mother Earth, and their children split their embrace to allow light (knowledge) in.

That’s about all I got right. 

I’ve since learned Tama-Nui-Te-Rā is the sun and has two wives: Hine Raumati (summer maiden) and Hine Takurua (winter maiden). 

His child with Hine Raumati is Tāne Rore, or heat wave. Tāne Rore is also the god of Haka, and is acknowledged in Haka’s wiri (trembling of the hands). 

Here’s another stereotype I unknowingly fell into: Haka is not just for men. It was originally done by goddesses. 

Sweet as! 

From the Hawaiiki Traditions ( Hawaiiki is the spiritual homeland of Polynesians and land of the gods and demigods), this is the tale:

Tinirau, a chief of Hawaiiki, asked Kae (tohuga/priest) to bless his newborn son. In return, his payment/koha, was flesh from Tinirau’s pet whale: Tutunui. Kae liked it a little too much, and devised a plan to eat the rest of the whale. He asks to ride Tutunui home, Tinirau agrees, and beaches the whale. His tribe, his iwi, cooks up the whale.

After some time, Tinirau knew Kae ate his beloved pet, and plots revenge. Luckily Kae is identifiable by his teeth, and knows if he were to make him laugh, his people would find him and bring him to justice.  He organizes a Kapa Haka (performers) made of women to pick him up. Some of these women include:

Hine-Te-Iwaiwa- Goddess of Weaving and Dance

Hine Rau-Kata-Uri: Goddess of Wind Instruments

Hine Rau-Kata-Mea: Goddess of Music and Games

     The women find the village because of the whale carcass, and get Kae to laugh by performing the E Ako Au Ki Te Haka.

And oh my god did the Brits censor it, but that’s for next week. 😉

In the end they capture Kae, bring him to Tinirau, and he kills him (also censored to: “given a good talking to”). 

Week two:

                         E Ako Au Ki Te Haka

 Leader:      E ako au, e ako au

                   E ako au ki te haka

                   E ako au ki te ringaringa

                   E ako au ki te whewhera

                   E kāore te whewhera

                   E ako au ki te kōwhiti

                   E kāore te kōwhiti

                   Kōwhiti nuku

                   Kōwhiti rangi

                   Kōwhiti puapua

                   Kōwhiti werawera

                   Te hanahana a Tīnaku e


My first haka! As we are just beginning to learn it, I have no photos and such, BUT here’s a look of where I spend much of my time on campus:

New Zealand .jpg

Yes and  last week I left out Tribal Traditions. These are a bit more complicted, as often they are not pan-tribal. Each iwi’s version has something to do with their particular environment they occupy. For instance Rangi and Papa’s children: for many iwis there are just 6, but on the south island their can be as many as seventy.


That being said there are some pretty common ones we are learning in class to learn the common themes behind haka:

Tinarau and Kae (story in week one)

Tama-Te-Kaupa and Whakatūria

Te Ponga and Puihuia


Tama-Rua-Rangi and Te-Rangi-Tū-Mai


In some of these stories the protagonists find themsevles in a bit of trouble and use haka as a way of deception to escape their captors, a couple are love stories in which the grace and beauty of someone’s dancing catches another’s eye, and then there’s ones for war. Often theft, loyalty to a companion, and inter-tribal relations are common as well.


Again as I said we are just breaking ground here. I will say our warm-up might be my favorite!

Takahia paki

Te pītipiti paki

Ki te _____ (paopao, whiuwhiu, rakuraku, waiirua)

Paki te pītipiti paki


It has a sick beat and some silly moves to it that I’m sure I’ll be teaching my friends back home.

That’s all for now

Ka kite!

Week Three/Four:

I didn’t update last week! My bad, honestly I’ve been thrown a lot of information in class, and then started learning rākau (stick) games. Basically you face a partner and throw/catch the sticks in rhythm, and they make an AWESOME noise when you strike the floor with them.

I believe it will be apart of the performance so we’ll see if my partner and I can get the hang of it.


Other than that, it’s been lectures about types of haka and mōteatea.


Haka Vocab

Word Meaning
Takahi stomping of the feet
Ārero tongue


Pūkana eye bulging
Whakatea white eyes
Whakatetē show teeth
Pōtētē grimace
Tahu distort face

Now types of Haka

Type Description
Peruperu This might be what most think of when they think of haka. Peru is the most intense form of anger,  and this haka was done facing your opponents pre-battle. It was to demoralize your enemy with high unified leaps off the ground with your legs folded. It was performed with weapons and you had to be pretty mentally and physically fit. If the other party couldn’t keep up, they weren’t ready for war.
Tūtū Ngārahu This is like the peruperu, but was done by northland tribes. There was no jumping up and down, but rather side to side. It was also performed with weapons and could be used for war or welcome.
Whakatū Waewae No jumping, just stamping of the feet, and usually no weapons. I think (?) this is specific to the Tūhoe people.


Ngeri Short haka to “summon up the blood”, no set movements or actions, mostly w/o weapons. This is the most well-known haka. Performers have free reign.

Types Include:

Tūtara– Sexual connotations and imagery

Tumoto– vengeful chant after injury or defeat

Kaioraora– literally to eat someone alive. This is often a woman’s haka to vent anger. My favorite, and I’ll take more about it.



Alrighty finally, there are 3 terms in haka to know as well:

  1. Ihi= interaction between you and the audience (your stage presence).
  2. Wehi= Fear, respect, and to terrify (it should make you uncomfortable).
  3. Wana= Excitement, “goosebumps” (how you feel watching).

Now I would like to talk about this shift in significance of haka from pre to post-european. Before it was a entertainment, a welcome, or a challenge between two parties, but since colonialism it has served as a voice for the Māori. It identifies their land, mana, and whakapapa. There are often underlying opinions on current events. A haka was even performed for King George in the 1860s expressing anger over the Treaty of Watangi.

                I should mention how urbanization has changed haka quite a bit as well. Many Māori left their culture for city jobs. Urban groups for this reason are not like traditional tribal-based performers. They do not share the same tribal-traditions, as they are a mixture of many iwi and hapū, and instead no topic becomes off limits. These haka groups go there about societal and political issues.


Sweet as, now, let’s talk about the All Blacks. The biggest marketing campaign for haka ever. I’m sure you’ve seen a youtube video or two. Some good has come from it too. Many Polynesians at the University of Hawaii began to haka, and when their elders saw it they were like,

“Yo, we get it, you want some culture, but we don’t haka in Hawaii, we do the Hawaiian Aha.” And so they learned, and old identities were recognized.


And yes, anything with a high viewing basis, will have bigots. The All Blacks have had to face many acts of discrimination and culture-appropriation.


Now let’s talk about mōteatea! This is traditional song/poetry, but there’s really no generic name for it.

There are two types….

The sung types are the following

Type Description
Ori ori These are lullabies about your birth info, genealogy… whakapapa composed by your mother, father, or grandparent. They mention Hawaiiki, battles, tradition, migration, historical events of the time you were born, and moral lessons.
Waiata Tangi These are laments for all types of death (peaceful, battle, accident, murder, sickness). These are songs of grief, sorrow, and longing.
Waiata Whaiapō Love songs meant for just two people. They often contain dissent of elders to the relationship. Europeans of course watered them down too (we are jerks).

 This sung type elongates words, and honestly reminds me of what I describe as priesty.


And last but certainly not least, the recited types, which are much, much faster than the sung types.

Type Description
Pātere These are historical references and were used frequently to return land. “To name is to claim.”
Kaioraora These are straight-up slander to belittle and sneer at someone who did you wrong. Swaying of the hips and turn of the body are very common here.


Wowza. Told ya I learned a lot. We are practicing for the performance, and just learned the intro to our haka and a new song, Tū tahi tonu rā. That’s that for now. I promise it will get even more interesting. I know we are actually going to rehearse in a Marae later in the semester. 😉

Week Five- Week Eight

Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau. Poi, waiata, haka, rākau.

Have I made my point yet? Basically we have been at practice to get performance ready …ish. 

Fun fact: I am the worst at poi.